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Capital in the Twenty-First Century
Author Thomas Piketty
Publisher Belknap Press
ISBN 9780674979857
Classification Social Science > Economics
Price HK$195.00
 
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What are the grand dynamics that drive the accumulation and distribution of capital? Questions about the long-term evolution of inequality, the concentration of wealth, and the prospects for economic growth lie at the heart of political economy. But satisfactory answers have been hard to find for lack of adequate data and clear guiding theories. In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty analyzes a unique collection of data from twenty countries, ranging as far back as the eighteenth century, to uncover key economic and social patterns. His findings will transform debate and set the agenda for the next generation of thought about wealth and inequality.

Piketty shows that modern economic growth and the diffusion of knowledge have allowed us to avoid inequalities on the apocalyptic scale predicted by Karl Marx. But we have not modified the deep structures of capital and inequality as much as we thought in the optimistic decades following World War II. The main driver of inequality—the tendency of returns on capital to exceed the rate of economic growth—today threatens to generate extreme inequalities that stir discontent and undermine democratic values. But economic trends are not acts of God. Political action has curbed dangerous inequalities in the past, Piketty says, and may do so again.

A work of extraordinary ambition, originality, and rigor, Capital in the Twenty-First Century reorients our understanding of economic history and confronts us with sobering lessons for today.


“It seems safe to say that Capital in the Twenty-First Century, the magnum opus of the French economist Thomas Piketty, will be the most important economics book of the year—and maybe of the decade. Piketty, arguably the world’s leading expert on income and wealth inequality, does more than document the growing concentration of income in the hands of a small economic elite. He also makes a powerful case that we’re on the way back to ‘patrimonial capitalism,’ in which the commanding heights of the economy are dominated not just by wealth, but also by inherited wealth, in which birth matters more than effort and talent.”—Paul Krugman, The New York Times

“[A] timely, important book.”—Joseph E. Stiglitz, The New York Times

“Piketty’s treatment of inequality is perfectly matched to its moment. Like [Paul] Kennedy a generation ago, Piketty has emerged as a rock star of the policy-intellectual world… But make no mistake, his work richly deserves all the attention it is receiving… Piketty, in collaboration with others, has spent more than a decade mining huge quantities of data spanning centuries and many countries to document, absolutely conclusively, that the share of income and wealth going to those at the very top—the top 1 percent, .1 percent, and .01 percent of the population—has risen sharply over the last generation, marking a return to a pattern that prevailed before World War I… Even if none of Piketty’s theories stands up, the establishment of this fact has transformed political discourse and is a Nobel Prize–worthy contribution. Piketty provides an elegant framework for making sense of a complex reality. His theorizing is bold and simple and hugely important if correct. In every area of thought, progress comes from simple abstract paradigms that guide later thinking, such as Darwin’s idea of evolution, Ricardo’s notion of comparative advantage, or Keynes’s conception of aggregate demand. Whether or not his idea ultimately proves out, Piketty makes a major contribution by putting forth a theory of natural economic evolution under capitalism… Piketty writes in the epic philosophical mode of Keynes, Marx, or Adam Smith… By focusing attention on what has happened to a fortunate few among us, and by opening up for debate issues around the long-run functioning of our market system, Capital in the Twenty-First Century has made a profoundly important contribution.”—Lawrence H. Summers, Democracy

“An extraordinary sweep of history backed by remarkably detailed data and analysis… Piketty’s economic analysis and historical proofs are breathtaking.”—Robert B. Reich, The Guardian

“The year’s most popular and controversial book.”—Roland White, The Sunday Times

“Piketty has come in for a lot of praise for the clarity of his writing, and I think it’s deserved. There’s very little math in this book, and it assumes very little prior knowledge of economics. In part, this is because Piketty is offering something fresh in the discourse: an unimaginably massive data-set that traces the ebb and flow of wealth and productivity around the globe for three centuries… Piketty challenges the idea that modernity somehow led to ‘merit’ asserting itself as the new determinant of wealth. Instead, he makes a very convincing case that the increasing size of the capital class—which expanded comfortably during the period of colonial expansion—created a hunger for wealth that turned the aristocracy on itself in a squabble over who got to loot the colonies, which was World War I… This is a crisis. The reason for capitalism is that it is supposed to allocate reward based on ‘merit’—it is supposed to move capital into the hands of the people who can do the most with it—and if all our policy decisions are made in service to a class of supermanagers whose wealth comes from squatting on a fortune managed by some green-eyeshade quants who grow it without its owner ever doing a notable thing apart from being born to dynasty, there is no more reason for capitalism. Piketty darkly hints that the last time this happened, the world tore itself to pieces, twice, in an orgy of destruction that left millions dead and whole nations in ruin… It’s a rare thing to see economists, especially pro-capitalist economists, praising taxation itself, but Piketty—careful, unemotional Piketty—dares… Besides, he says, the thing every red-blooded entrepreneur wants to see is people getting rich by their wits and deeds, not by the birthright of kings… Piketty wants desperately to salvage captalism, even if that means proposing something that every capitalist will hate: a global wealth tax.”—Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing

“Riveting… [Piketty] embodies a model of engaged and sophisticated public debate, the sort of which politicians can only dream… One of Piketty’s main messages is that the structures of inequality societies choose to live with are the results of political choices, not natural or immutable economic tendencies, and that to pretend otherwise is an ‘ideological’ fiction… Capital inequality has dispossessed us of our ‘democratic sovereignty,’ and that’s something we should all really worry about… His book is as much a story about the limits of modern democratic politics as it is about the structures of inequality… When Piketty’s insights are eventually fused into new histories of economic and political thinking about global competition from the French Revolution to the present, the results will be… electrifying, particularly when it comes to revisiting the political and economic ideas of the global wars of the first half of the twentieth century… [This book] will certainly also shake the foundations of many university courses in political philosophy. That is itself quite a remarkable achievement, and perhaps the sort of achievement that might lead to the sort of political consciousness-raising Piketty is clearly keen to promote. In that, he really is an heir to a long-standing tradition of public intellectuals in French academic life since the Revolution.”—Duncan Kelly, The Times Literary Supplement

“A sweeping account of rising inequality… Eventually, Piketty says, we could see the reemergence of a world familiar to nineteenth-century Europeans; he cites the novels of Austen and Balzac. In this ‘patrimonial society,’ a small group of wealthy rentiers lives lavishly on the fruits of its inherited wealth, and the rest struggle to keep up… The proper role of public intellectuals is to question accepted dogmas, conceive of new methods of analysis, and expand the terms of public debate. Capital in the Twenty-first Century does all these things… Piketty has written a book that nobody interested in a defining issue of our era can afford to ignore.”—John Cassidy, The New Yorker

“It is easy to overlook the achievement of Thomas Piketty’s new bestseller, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, as a work of economic history. Debates about the book have largely focused on inequality. But on any given page, there is data about the total level of private capital and the percentage of income paid out to labor in England from the 1700s onward, something that would have been impossible for early researchers… Capital reflects decades of work in collecting national income data across centuries, countries, and class, done in partnership with academics across the globe. But beyond its remarkably rich and instructive history, the book’s deep and novel understanding of inequality in the economy has drawn well-deserved attention… [Piketty’s] engagement with the rest of the social sciences also distinguishes him from most economists… The book is filled with brilliant moments… The book is an attempt to ground the debate over inequality in strong empirical data, put the question of distribution back into economics, and open the debate not just to the entirety of the social sciences but to people themselves.”—Mike Konczal, Boston Review

“What makes Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century such a triumph is that it seems to have been written specifically to demolish the great economic shibboleths of our time… [The book is] Piketty’s magnum opus.”—Thomas Frank, Salon

“This year’s most unlikely best seller, a crossover from the world of scholarship into general public discussion of a kind that seems rarer than it used to be. The book’s thesis—that economic inequality in the developed world is increasing, with potentially dire consequences for social justice and democratic governance—has struck a nerve in the American body politic. But its implications extend beyond the realm of political economy… The book invites the re-examination of deeply held assumptions about the world.”—A. O. Scott, New York Times

“[A] 700-page punch in the plutocracy’s pampered gut… It’s been half a century since a book of economic history broke out of its academic silo with such fireworks.”—Giles Whittell, The Times

“Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics has done the definitive comparative historical research on income inequality in his Capital in the Twenty-First Century.”—Paul Starr, The New York Review of Books

“Bracing… Piketty provides a fresh and sweeping analysis of the world’s economic history that puts into question many of our core beliefs about the organization of market economies. His most startling news is that the belief that inequality will eventually stabilize and subside on its own, a long-held tenet of free market capitalism, is wrong. Rather, the economic forces concentrating more and more wealth into the hands of the fortunate few are almost sure to prevail for a very long time.”—Eduardo Porter, The New York Times

“Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century is a monumental book that will influence economic analysis (and perhaps policymaking) in the years to come. In the way it is written and the importance of the questions it asks, it is a book the classic authors of economics could have written if they lived today and had access to the vast empirical material Piketty and his colleagues collected… In a short review, it is impossible to do even partial justice to the wealth of information, data, analysis, and discussion contained in this book of almost 700 pages. Piketty has returned economics to the classical roots where it seeks to understand the ‘laws of motion’ of capitalism. He has re-emphasized the distinction between ‘unearned’ and ‘earned’ income that had been tucked away for so long under misleading terminologies of ‘human capital,’ ‘economic agents,’ and ‘factors of production.’ Labor and capital—those who have to work for a living and those who live from property—people in flesh—are squarely back in economics via this great book.”—Branko Milanovic, The American Prospect

“Monumental… [Piketty] documents a sharp increase in such inequality over the last 25 years, not only in the United States, but also in Canada, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa, with people with the highest incomes far outstripping the rest of society. The book is impressive in its wealth of information.”—Robert J. Shiller, The New York Times

“Piketty’s book bespeaks the palpable upset that American society, indeed, the world’s societies, seems increasingly rigged; that inequality is worsening and darkening the future. Capital in the Twenty-First Century might be more aptly titled Inequality in the Twenty-First Century… Piketty is relentless in his indictment of inequality… Piketty assembles a mountain of numbers and tables to demonstrate that economic inequality is intensifying; that the wealthier are wealthier; and that the rich own more… Piketty hits bullseye after bullseye about the exacerbating inequalities that disfigure society—especially American society… For [those] who suffer from the relentless blather about why the minimum wage cannot be raised; why ‘job creators’ cannot be taxed; and why American society remains the most open in the world, Piketty is what the doctor ordered.”—Russell Jacoby, The New Republic

“Instantly influential… [Its] euphoric reception is richly merited… [Piketty’s] chief intellectual accomplishment is to show how the basic forces of capitalism tend inevitably toward an ever-greater accumulation of wealth at the tip of the pyramid… Over the past couple decades, we have started to realize that capitalism is no longer delivering for the vast majority of people in most Western democracies. The middle class is being hollowed out, even as fortunes continue to grow at the very top. Piketty has now delivered the most empirically grounded, intellectually coherent explanation of what is going on… His masterwork… That’s why the most successful societies of the 21st century will be the ones whose plutocrats read Piketty and help come up with the political answers to the economic forces he so powerfully describes. Piketty shows that the economics of the postwar era—when the West enjoyed strong, widely-shared growth—was a historical exception. For our Western democracies, it was also a political necessity. Capitalism is facing an existential challenge; smart plutocrats will be part of the solution.”—Chrystia Freeland, Politico

“Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century is the most important economics book of the year, if not the decade… Capital in the 21st Century essentially takes the existing debate on income inequality and supercharges it. It does so by asserting that in the long run the economic inequality that matters won’t be the gap between people who earn high salaries and those who earn low ones, it will be the gap between people who inherit large sums of money and those who don’t.”—Matthew Yglesias, Vox

“[A] magnificent, sweeping meditation on inequality… The big idea of Capital in the Twenty-First Century is that we haven’t just gone back to nineteenth-century levels of income inequality, we’re also on a path back to ‘patrimonial capitalism,’ in which the commanding heights of the economy are controlled not by talented individuals but by family dynasties… Piketty has written a truly superb book. It’s a work that melds grand historical sweep—when was the last time you heard an economist invoke Jane Austen and Balzac?—with painstaking data analysis… A tour de force of economic modeling, an approach that integrates the analysis of economic growth with that of the distribution of income and wealth. This is a book that will change both the way we think about society and the way we do economics… Capital in the Twenty-First Century is, as I hope I’ve made clear, an awesome work. At a time when the concentration of wealth and income in the hands of a few has resurfaced as a central political issue, Piketty doesn’t just offer invaluable documentation of what is happening, with unmatched historical depth. He also offers what amounts to a unified field theory of inequality, one that integrates economic growth, the distribution of income between capital and labor, and the distribution of wealth and income among individuals into a single frame… Capital in the Twenty-First Century makes it clear that public policy can make an enormous difference, that even if the underlying economic conditions point toward extreme inequality, what Piketty calls ‘a drift toward oligarchy’ can be halted and even reversed if the body politic so chooses… His masterwork… Sometimes it seems as if a substantial part of our political class is actively working to restore Piketty’s patrimonial capitalism. And if you look at the sources of political donations, many of which come from wealthy families, this possibility is a lot less outlandish than it might seem… [A] masterly diagnosis of where we are and where we’re heading… Capital in the Twenty-First Century is an extremely important book on all fronts. Piketty has transformed our economic discourse; we’ll never talk about wealth and inequality the same way we used to.”—Paul Krugman, The New York Review of Books

“Reading Thomas Piketty’s famous book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, after all the fuss about it, is a bit of a shock. It’s both much more radical and much less radical than its reputation… I was anticipating a left-wing rant, but Piketty’s tone is modest and polite—not at all what you expect from a rock-star French intellectual… Piketty and his book remind me of my favorite economist, the 19th-century American Henry George, and his best-selling book, Progress and Poverty (1879). Both men’s books offer a comprehensive explanation of the world, in particular the problem of poverty. Both men acknowledge the importance of market incentives and entrepreneurship and the evils of protectionism and all of that good conservative stuff, even as they rail against the plutocrats. Both think we can end or reduce inequality without giving up the benefits of capitalism. And both see the answer in a new tax on capital… This is beginning to sound sort of reasonable, both in its demands on people at the top and its generosity to those on the bottom.”—Michael Kinsley, Vanity Fair

“Groundbreaking…The usefulness of economics is determined by the quality of data at our disposal. Piketty’s new volume offers a fresh perspective and a wealth of newly compiled data that will go a long way in helping us understand how capitalism actually works.”—Christopher Matthews, Fortune.com

“French economist Thomas Piketty has written an extraordinarily important book. Open-minded readers will surely find themselves unable to ignore the evidence and arguments he has brought to bear… In its scale and sweep it brings us back to the founders of political economy… The result is a work of vast historical scope, grounded in exhaustive fact-based research, and suffused with literary references. It is both normative and political. Piketty rejects theorizing ungrounded in data… The book is built on a 15-year program of empirical research conducted in conjunction with other scholars. Its result is a transformation of what we know about the evolution of income and wealth (which he calls capital) over the past three centuries in leading high-income countries. That makes it an enthralling economic, social and political history.”—Martin Wolf, Financial Times

“About as close to a blockbuster as there is in the world of economic literature—easily the most discussed book of its genre in years. The central premise is provocative and profoundly bleak… Piketty challenges one of the underpinnings of modern democracies—namely, that growth and productivity make each generation better off than the previous one.”—Barrie McKenna, The Globe and Mail

“Piketty has unearthed the history of income distribution for at least the past hundred years in every major capitalist nation. It makes for fascinating, grim and alarming reading… Piketty’s book provides a valuable explanatory context for America’s economic woes… Piketty gives us the most important work of economics since John Maynard Keynes’s General Theory.”—Harold Meyerson, The Washington Post

“Stands a fair chance of becoming the most influential work of economics yet published in our young century. It is the most important study of inequality in over fifty years… Although the contours of Piketty’s history confirm what economic historians already know, his anatomizing of the 1 percent’s fortunes over centuries is a revelation. When joined to his magisterial command of the source material and his gift for synthesis, they disclose a history not of steady economic expansion but of stops and starts, with room for sudden departures from seemingly unbreakable patterns. In turn, he links this history to economic theory, demonstrating that there is no inherent drive in markets toward income equality. It’s quite the opposite, in fact.”—Timothy Shenk, The Nation

“Magnificent… Even though it is a work more concerned with the past 200 years, it’s no coincidence that the full title of Piketty’s book is Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Its ambition is to shape debates about the next two centuries, not the past two. And in that it may succeed.”—Christopher Croke, The Australian

“[Piketty] is just about to emerge as the most important thinker of his generation… He makes his case in a clear and rigorous manner that debunks everything that capitalists believe about the ethical status of making money… He demonstrates that there is no reason to believe that capitalism can ever solve the problem of inequality, which he insists is getting worse rather than better. From the banking crisis of 2008 to the Occupy movement of 2011, this much has been intuited by ordinary people. The singular significance of his book is that it proves ‘scientifically’ that this intuition is correct. This is why his book has crossed over into the mainstream—it says what many people have already been thinking… Unlike many economists he insists that economic thinking cannot be separated from history or politics… As poverty increases across the globe, everyone is being forced to listen to Piketty with great attention. But although his diagnosis is accurate and compelling, it is hard, almost impossible, to imagine that the cure he proposes—tax and more tax—will ever be implemented in a world where, from Beijing to Moscow to Washington, money, and those who have more of it than anyone else, still calls the shots.”—Andrew Hussey, The Observer

“Piketty has won interest and enthusiasm on the left of the political spectrum…for this ambitious work. It is not, however, a politically sectarian argument; perhaps that explains why it has become a surprise bestseller. The strength of his thesis is that it is founded on evidence rather than ideology. Piketty has researched data over more than a century in order to derive his understanding of the dynamics of modern capitalism. He is able to point convincingly to a recent reversal of historical trends, so that the share of national income taken by the owners of capital has expanded over the past generation… What Piketty has done is provide a strong factual understanding for how modern capitalist economies diverge from the image of risk-taking and productive commercial activity. At the very least, the book effectively debunks the notion that there is an economic imperative for low tax rates and a smaller state.”—Oliver Kamm, The Times

“Magisterial… Piketty’s Capital feels very much like a Category 4 hurricane that hasn’t yet made landfall… Piketty draws on a vast store of historical data to argue that the broad dissemination of wealth that occurred during the decades following World War I was not, as economists then mistakenly believed, a natural state of capitalist equilibrium, but rather a halcyon interval between Belle Époque inequality and the rising inequality of our own era… Piketty’s most provocative argument is that the discrepancy between the high returns to capital and much more modest overall economic growth—briefly annulled during the mid-century—ensures that the gulf between the rich (who profit from capital investments) and the middle class (who depend chiefly on income from labor) will only continue to grow… The best reason to raise tax rates is not to punish the rich, of course, but to raise the revenue which the United States needs to invest in infrastructure and research, not to mention to pay for Social Security and health care. That investment gap poses a clear and present danger to American global economic leadership. Rising inequality exacerbates the problem by sapping the collective political will needed to address the problem.”—James Traub, Foreign Policy online

“Defies left and right orthodoxy by arguing that worsening inequality is an inevitable outcome of free market capitalism… [It] suggests that traditional liberal government policies on spending, taxation and regulation will fail to diminish inequality… Without what [Piketty] acknowledges is a politically unrealistic global wealth tax, he sees the United States and the developed world on a path toward a degree of inequality that will reach levels likely to cause severe social disruption. Final judgment on Piketty’s work will come with time—a problem in and of itself, because if he is right, inequality will worsen, making it all the more difficult to take preemptive action.”—Thomas B. Edsall, The New York Times

“This is a serious book… Piketty’s main point, and his new and powerful contribution to an old topic: as long as the rate of return exceeds the rate of growth, the income and wealth of the rich will grow faster than the typical income from work. (There seems to be no offsetting tendency for the aggregate share of capital to shrink; the tendency may be slightly in the opposite direction.) This interpretation of the observed trend toward increasing inequality, and especially the phenomenon of the 1 percent, is not rooted in any failure of economic institutions; it rests primarily on the ability of the economy to absorb increasing amounts of capital without a substantial fall in the rate of return. This may be good news for the economy as a whole, but it is not good news for equity within the economy… There is yet another, also rather dark, implication of this account of underlying trends. If already existing agglomerations of wealth tend to grow faster than incomes from work, it is likely that the role of inherited wealth in society will increase relative to that of recently earned and therefore more merit-based fortunes… The arithmetic suggests that the concentration of wealth and its ability to grow will favor an increasing weight of inheritance as compared with talent… If the ownership of wealth in fact becomes even more concentrated during the rest of the twenty-first century, the outlook is pretty bleak unless you have a taste for oligarchy… Wouldn’t it be interesting if the United States were to become the land of the free, the home of the brave, and the last refuge of increasing inequality at the top (and perhaps also at the bottom)? Would that work for you?”—Robert Solow, The New Republic

“The blockbuster economics book of the season, Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, argues that the great equalizing decades following World War II, which brought on the rise of the middle class in the United States, were but a historical anomaly. Armed with centuries of data, Piketty says the rich are going to continue to gobble up a greater share of income, and our current system will do nothing to reverse that trend.”—Shaila Dewan, The New York Times Magazine

“Anyone remotely interested in economics needs to read Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century.”—Matthew Yglesias, Slate

“In its magisterial sweep and ambition, Piketty’s latest work, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, is clearly modeled after Marx’s Das Kapital. But where Marx’s research was spotty, Piketty’s is prodigious. And where Marx foresaw capitalism’s collapse leading to a utopian proletariat paradise, Piketty sees a future of slow growth and Gilded Age disparities in which the wealthy—owners of capital—capture a steadily larger share of global wealth and income… Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century is an intellectual tour de force, a triumph of economic history over the theoretical, mathematical modeling that has come to dominate the economics profession in recent years. Piketty offers a timely and well-reasoned reminder that there is nothing inevitable about the dominance of human capital over financial capital, and that there is inherent in the dynamics of capitalism a natural and destabilizing tendency toward inequality of income, wealth and opportunity.”—Steven Pearlstein, The Washington Post

“Though an heir to Tocqueville’s tradition of analytic history, Thomas Piketty has a message that could not be more different: Unless we act, inequality will grow much worse, eventually making a mockery of our democratic institutions. With wealth more and more concentrated, countries racing to cut taxes on capital, and inheritance coming to rival entrepreneurship as a source of riches, a new patrimonial elite may prove as inevitable as Tocqueville once believed democratic equality was. This forecast is based not on speculation but on facts assembled through prodigious research… Private wealth has reached new highs relative to national income and is approaching levels of concentration not seen since before 1929… Piketty is rightly pessimistic about an immediate response. The influence of the wealthy on democratic politics and on how we think about merit and reward presents formidable obstacles… Perhaps with this magisterial book, the troubling realities Piketty unearths will become more visible and the rationalizations of the privileged that sustain them less dominant. Like Tocqueville, Piketty has given us a new image of ourselves. This time, it’s one we should resist, not welcome.”—Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, The American Prospect

“The book aims to revolutionize the way people think about the economic history of the past two centuries. It may well manage the feat… It is, first and foremost, a very detailed look at 200 years’ worth of data on the distribution of income and wealth across the rich world (with some figures for large emerging markets also included). This mountain of data allows Piketty to tell a simple and compelling story… The database on which the book is built is formidable, and it is difficult to dispute his call for a new perspective on the modern economic era, whether or not one agrees with his policy recommendations… We are all used to sneering at communism because of its manifest failure to deliver the sustained rates of growth managed by market economies. But Marx’s original critique of capitalism was not that it made for lousy growth rates. It was that a rising concentration of wealth couldn’t be sustained politically. Ultimately, those of us who would like to preserve the market system need to grapple with that sort of dynamic, in the context of the worrying numbers on inequality that Piketty presents.”—The Economist

“Piketty’s book is revolutionary. It rewrites the mission of economics, discarding claims that the discipline is a super-science of human behavior or public policy. Piketty wants to return his field to what the 19th century called ‘political economy’: a discipline about power, justice, and—also, but not first—wealth… [Piketty spoils] the longstanding conventional wisdom, supported by economics Nobel winners like Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, plus lots of less controversial characters, that capitalism is democracy’s best friend… It shows a world getting radically more unequal, the return of hereditary wealth, and—at least in the U.S.—an economy so distorted that much of what happens at the very top can be fairly described as class-based looting. And he gives some fairly strong reasons to suspect that this, not the relatively open and egalitarian economies of the mid-20th century, is what capitalism looks like… Reading it is like talking to a smart person who knows you’re smart and knows, too, that you’re not an economist… We’ve been spun a story: mainstream economics for the last 60-odd years has succored a complacent folk tale, albeit with lots of mathematical sophistication tacked on. Except for some discernible ‘market failures,’ it told us that all was for the best in this best of worlds. What you earn must be what you are contributing; otherwise, the market would step in to restore efficiency… Piketty reveals that these just-so stories have veiled urgent and inflammatory problems: capitalism produces self-accelerating inequality that corrupts both politics and culture and splits society into privileged rent collectors and everyone else, who must choose either to get halfway rich ministering to capital or to stay on the low end of the pole doing the humanly necessary work of teaching, nursing, keeping the utility wires humming, and so forth. Piketty’s multi-century portrait of wealth and income obliterates economists’ complacent narratives… Yet the period of shared growth in the mid-20th century was not just the aftermath of war and depression. It was also the apex of organized labor’s power in Europe and North America, the fruit of many decades of organizing, not a little of it bloody, not a little under the flag of democratic socialism. Various crises cleared the ground, but the demands of labor, and an organized left more generally, were integral to building the comparatively egalitarian, high-wage world that came after the wars, with its strong public sector, self-assertive workers, and halfway tamed capital. There’s a lesson we can learn here about what we might do to combat inequality, and how… Piketty shows that capitalism’s attractive moral claims—that it can make everyone better off while respecting their freedom—deserve much less respect under our increasingly ‘pure” markets than in the mixed economies that dominated the North Atlantic countries in the mid-20th century… We are still seeking an economy that is both vibrant and humane, where mutual advantage is real and mutual aid possible. The one we have isn’t it.”—Jedediah Purdy, The Los Angeles Review of Books

“Piketty has shown that we are living in a Second Gilded Age… It is too early to expect actual public policies to emerge from his insights. But the significance of his contribution is already apparent in the breadth of his vision. Nestled under the book’s mass of data, elegant mathematical formulae, and literary references is an insistence that the turmoil of capitalism is a human turmoil, within the control of human beings. Piketty’s book is a call to citizenship, not as a series of fatalistic poses, but as a political responsibility. That spirit of engagement is more radical, at this moment in history, than any other proposal.”—Stephen Marche, The Los Angeles Review of Books

“The most remarkable work of economics in recent years, if not decades… [It] has caused an intellectual sensation on both sides of the Atlantic… His range is immense. And his open, fluent style will guarantee him a wide readership. In contrast to much of what passes for orthodox economics, he is engaged with the problems of the real world… The discipline of economics, Piketty argues, remains trapped in a juvenile passion for mathematics, divorced from history and its sister social sciences. His work aims to change that.”—Nick Pearce, New Statesman

“A landmark book…which brings a ton of data to bear in reaching the commonsensical conclusion that inequality has to do with more than just blind market forces at work.”—George Packer, The New Yorker blog

“[Piketty] is now the most talked-about economist on the planet… Capital is rooted not in theoretical abstractions so much as archaeology. The book analyzes hundreds of years of tax records from France, the U.K., the U.S., Germany and Japan to prove a simple idea: The rich really are getting richer. And their wealth doesn’t trickle down. It trickles up… The stark historical consequences of unchecked inequality are at the heart of Capital.”—Rana Foroohar, Time

“Magisterial… Piketty provides a sweeping, data-driven narrative about inequality trends in the United States and other Western economies over the past century or more, identifies a worrisome increase in income and wealth concentration in a small percentage of the population since 1980, and warns that this trend won’t likely correct itself… Piketty is not optimistic that the forces of greater income and wealth inequality will abate on their own, but he is not an economic determinist. The problem, however, is that countering those forces requires public policies and institutions more like those of the era of shared prosperity than those of today.”—Chad Stone, U.S. News & World Report

“Piketty’s new book is an important contribution to understanding what we need to do to produce more growth, wider economic opportunity and greater social stability.”—David Cay Johnston, Al-Jazeera America

“The book has made everyone with a stake in capitalism sit up and take notice… [Piketty’s] analysis should challenge Americans to rethink our notions of wealth and poverty and whether any semblance of ‘equal opportunity’ actually exists… Piketty has made an important contribution. His book prompts the discerning person to evaluate anew the human and social costs of capitalism. The creative thinking of citizens is now required to combat the ills he has diagnosed.”—America

“In this monumental, vitally important work, [Piketty] forces us to reconsider what we think we know about the baseline functioning of capitalist economies over the long haul, and to grapple with the implications for ourselves and our times. Piketty’s approach is data-driven. In detective-like fashion, he has collected the most complete historical series on distributions of income and wealth ever assembled, and this data allows him to articulate a penetrating and highly accessible account of the long evolution of inequality within advanced industrial nations… The findings are numerous and sobering, and nearly every page of the book rewards a careful reading with new insights and intriguing questions.”—Matthew Carnes, America

“Capital in the Twenty-First Century is written in the tradition of great economic texts… Piketty and his colleagues have spent recent years putting together a World Top Incomes Database, their detailed investigation into income in countries around the globe, spanning several decades… Informed by this historical, cross-country data, Piketty evaluates—and rejects—a number of generally accepted conclusions in economic thought, while being careful to note the limitations of inevitably ‘imperfect and incomplete’ sources. The main finding of his investigation is that capital still matters… This book is significant for its findings, as well as for how Piketty arrives at them. It’s easy—and fun—to argue about ideas. It is much more difficult to argue about facts. Facts are what Piketty gives us, while pressing the reader to engage in the journey of sorting through their implications.”—Heather Boushey, The American Prospect

“How does a rigorous, seven-hundred page economic history become a lionized hit? Through the canny voice of professor Thomas Piketty, and his demystification of inherited wealth, Karl Marx’s true legacy, and what we mean when we talk about monetary ‘growth’ and ‘inequality.’”—Barnes & Noble Review

“When it comes to economics…you need to get yourself a hold of Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty… Piketty’s study will have readers plotting capital’s downfall because what it shows is that the growing inequalities we are seeing between the haves and have nots are endemic to the system. Piketty has been hailed by many on the right as well as the left, for writing a highly significant book. Its strength rests on the fact that he has worked the sources in a way few economists have, analyzing actual data on earnings over decades to come up with some startling conclusions. We are entering a new age of capital, he argues; a time, similar to the early 19th century, when many will live off their money without the need for work. Meanwhile, those without capital will always struggle to keep ahead of debts.”—Thomas Quinn, Big Issue

“The fundamental theme on the differences between returns to capital and returns to labor is one that Piketty has brought, quite properly, to the center of policy discussions.”—Stephen L. Carter, Bloomberg View

“Piketty, whose previous work we are indebted to for providing statistical verification that the top 1 percent of the population possesses a outsize percentage of wealth, has written a magisterial book about the ever-increasing inequality. A comprehensive overview of Capital’s abundance of historical and analytical data would be impossible here… Piketty’s genius lies in proving that inequality is growing and potentially threatens widespread political instability… Piketty has written a trenchant critique of our current economic system.”—Michael Washburn, The Boston Globe

“New research from the Fed shows incomes of the richest Americans are bouncing back strongly after the crisis while average incomes have fallen… In essence, French economist Thomas Piketty’s contention that wealth breeds wealth—and that increasing inequality is part of capitalism’s inherent structure, rather than an occasional condition—looks largely correct, at least since the early 1990s.”—Tomas Hirst, Business Insider

“Piketty’s magnum opus… But unlike many other authors of tracts from the ‘dismal science,’ this distinguished French economist has rendered an eminently readable account of the history and dynamics of capitalism and inequality… A lucid tale of why inequality in the world is increasing, and what we should be doing about it. The right leaning crowd may be dismayed with his prescriptions of stiff global wealth taxes, but neither leftists nor rightists can dispute the data that he presents… According to Piketty, the only real corrective to capital’s concentration is a global capital tax (because it is freely globally mobile), and a stiff inheritance tax. This is controversial, but what is not disputed is that inequality in income and wealth within each country has gotten much worse in the past three decades. The question is what do we do about it. For starters, we should read this excellent book.”—Ajit Ranade, Business Today

“Piketty demonstrates in terrifying detail, with painstaking statistical research, that free-market capitalism, in the absence of major state redistribution, produces profound economic inequalities. Specifically, after redistributive policies in the mid-20th century narrowed the income and wealth gap somewhat, the gap has widened again in the last few decades, approaching levels not seen since before World War I.”—Michael Robbins, The Chicago Tribune

“[Piketty’s] overarching theme—that increased income disparity as a threat to democratic capitalism—remains prominent… His concerns about social unrest cannot be ignored: the movement from personal interdependence to impersonal global interdependence tends to erode trust and voluntary sharing, and wealth disparities are increasingly seen as unmerited and unfair.”—James Halteman, Christian Century

“Capital in the Twenty-First Century convinces because Piketty supports his arguments about inequality with two innovative forms of evidence largely neglected by his predecessors on both the left and the right. The first is an unprecedented trove of historical economic data, which Piketty uses to demonstrate increasing inequality due to the long-term tendency of returns on capital to outpace economic growth. The second is a series of literary works, which Piketty uses to reveal the social and psychological consequences of this inequality in its erosion of human dignity. The depth and range of evidence Piketty marshals allows him to deliver a devastating blow to the confidence of many economists that capitalism is a tide that gradually lifts all boats. In the process, he mounts an effective critique of the tendency of economic writers on both left and right to rely on theories and formal systems. Many who were content to ignore the warnings of [David] Harvey and company that our economic system will produce unsustainable levels of inequity find that they cannot ignore Piketty’s… His book challenges both mainstream economists’ faith in untested mathematical models, as well as radicals’ resistance to subjecting Marx’s economic theory to rigorous testing.”—Michael W. Clune, The Chronicle of Higher Education

“Intellectually hefty… Piketty has already engendered vigorous argument. Capital is an arduous climb, but the subject is equally weighty, and it demands our best analyses, proposals and dialogues. Capital is an essential volume in the conversation.”—Earl Pike, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“An important book…which paints a compelling, and scary, picture of the deep forces driving toward ever greater inequality in the modern world. Piketty’s historical focus adds power to his analysis of the trend toward greater financial inequality today.”—Charles R. Morris, Commonweal

“Piketty has looked at centuries of tax archives to formulate a theory of capitalism that is evidence-based and rigorously researched, but also attempts to answer the most basic questions in economic theory. His paradigm-shifting thesis is, at its most basic, that late-stage capitalist economies foster inequality and create an ever-widening gap between rich and poor. These ideas feel intuitive and elegant, and Piketty’s emphasis on data-based analysis lend even his most ambitious claims great credibility. Capital in the Twenty-First Century is already being hailed as a seminal work of economic thought, and with very good reason.”—Thomas Flynn, The Daily Beast

“Piketty’s great achievement, and one possible reason for the enthusiastic reception of his book, is his effective empirical demonstration of a fact long denied by neoclassical economics and its champions throughout the world: markets, when left to their own devices, do not provide individuals with rewards that are proportional to their efforts and contributions towards producing goods and services, nor do they ensure the most optimal distribution of those goods and services. Instead, they tend to concentrate wealth in fewer and fewer hands, giving rise to what Piketty calls a system of ‘patrimonial’ capitalism in which a few major players derive disproportionate benefit simply by virtue of possessing high amounts of capital… As a work of economic history, and a source of data, it effectively demolishes mainstream myths about the ability of markets to combat inequality, reward effort and innovation, and deliver the greatest amount of good to the greatest number of people. At a point in time where slogans about the 1 per cent vs the 99pc abound, this book provides conclusive evidence in support of the idea that the modern-world economy is one that is inherently unjust and exploitative.”—Hassan Javid, Dawn

“Seven hundred pages on the evolution of inequality in economically advanced societies by the most fashionable new theorist to emerge for a long time. Many have been waiting for such a comprehensive critique of capitalism.”—David Sexton, The Evening Standard

“This important and fascinating book surely ranks among the most influential economic analysis of recent decades. Much of the debate over inequality in recent years is the result of the work of Thomas Piketty and his fellow researchers… This book contains important lessons for economists. It is a (perhaps unwelcome) reminder that what they measure reflects political choices. It cautions them to be wary of viewing recent decades as some sort of ‘steady state’; the evolution of post–World War II incomes and wealth reflect the unwinding of earlier events, and the point is more general. And it reminds them of the rhetorical and explanatory power of simple comparisons of facts, once collected and arranged, relative to complex statistics and models.”—Andrew Berg, Finance & Development

“[A] seminal work on capitalism.”—Madan Sabnavis, Financial Express

“This was the blockbuster success of 2014 and was named the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year. Despite the controversies surrounding it, the book throws much light upon one of the most important questions in economics: what determines the distribution of income and wealth. With an abundance of data and some simple and powerful theories, Piketty has made an immensely important contribution to the public debate.”—Martin Wolf, Financial Times

“Over the last decade or so, economist Thomas Piketty has made his name central to serious discussions of inequality… Piketty expands upon his empirical work of the last 10 years, while also setting forth a political theory of inequality. This last element of the book gives special attention to tax policy and makes some provocative suggestions—new and higher taxes on the very rich.”—Joseph Thorndike, Forbes

“This past July, I felt compelled to read Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century after reading several reviews and hearing about it from friends. I’m glad I did. I encourage you to read it too… I agree with his most important conclusions, and I hope his work will draw more smart people into the study of wealth and income inequality.”—Bill Gates, The Gates Notes

“The most eagerly anticipated book on economics in many years.”—Toby Sanger, The Globe and Mail

“A book of such magisterial sweep… Piketty deserves huge credit for kickstarting a debate about inequality and illuminating the distribution of income and wealth.”—Stephanie Flanders, The Guardian

“Many of the book’s 700 pages are spent marshaling the evidence that 21st-century capitalism is on a one-way journey towards inequality—unless we do something. If Piketty is right, there are big political implications, and the beauty of the book is that he never refrains from drawing them… The book’s terms and explanations are utterly simple; with a myriad of historical data, Piketty reduces the story of capitalism to a clear narrative arc. To challenge his argument you have to reject the premises of it, not the working out… Is Piketty the new Karl Marx? Anybody who has read the latter will know he is not… Piketty has, more accurately, placed an unexploded bomb within mainstream, classical economics… The power of Piketty’s work is that it also challenges the narrative of the center-left under globalization, which believed upskilling the workforce, combined with mild redistribution, would promote social justice. This, Piketty demonstrates, is mistaken. All that social democracy and liberalism can produce, with their current policies, is the oligarch’s yacht co-existing with the food bank forever. Piketty’s Capital, unlike Marx’s Capital, contains solutions possible on the terrain of capitalism itself.”—Paul Mason, The Guardian

“Piketty solidifies and gives an intellectual edge to the view that something is wrong here, and something new and bold and radical has got to be done… People like me, and others, are certainly excited by the prospect of where Piketty might take us.”—Len McCluskey, The Guardian

“The big questions that concerned Mill, Marx and Smith are now rearing their heads afresh… Thomas Piketty—who spent long years, during which the mainstream neglected inequality, mapping the distribution of income—is making waves with Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Nodding at Marx, that title helps explain the attention, but his decidedly classical emphasis on historical dynamics in determining who gets what resonates in a world where an increasing proportion of citizens are feeling fleeced by the elite.”—The Guardian

“[Capital in the Twenty-First Century] has jolted the right, who are scrabbling around for an answer to its main message: rising inequality is killing capitalism… It is a big book in every sense of the word, using empirical evidence from 30 countries to describe how capitalism has evolved over the past 300 years and is now reverting to what Piketty calls the Downton Abbey world of a century ago. Where much modern writing about economics is cloaked in impenetrable jargon, Piketty is not afraid to draw on literature and popular culture to make his points… Piketty’s book seems to explain the brutal world of the Great Recession and its aftermath rather better than trickle-down economics… It is rare for economics books to fly off the shelves. Once in every generation, usually when the world has started to recover after a serious recession, there is a search for answers. Will Hutton’s The State We’re In was the must-buy book two decades ago just as Piketty’s is today.”—The Guardian blog

“The impact of the book will be [deep] and long lasting… Piketty has elevated many issues to a higher level by making the study of inequality as one of political economy embedded in history, data and configuration of socio-political groups… This book has all the makings of a classic. It has already changed the way economists think about inequality. One hopes that these ideas will percolate into the chambers of policy-makers in governments and lending institutions and bring about changes in their policies to reduce inequality.”—K. Subramanian, The Hindu

“This book is the key to understanding how the automatic accumulation and concentration of wealth poses a threat to the peaceful economies in which entrepreneurs prosper.”—Geoffrey James, Inc.

“Piketty sets out to tell a high-level history of the global economy and to outline a fresh theory of where we are heading. It’s the sort of grand intellectual enterprise that was common in the 19th century, but has become a rarity in our era of more specialized scholarship… Piketty says he wants the book to be widely read and his ideas debated. He has succeeded. Questions of economic theory have now reached an uncommonly large audience. One could, of course, fill a book twice the size with the reviews and the commentary Capital has prompted. But there is a better way into the debate than consuming the Piketty media phenomenon: spend a little valuable capital and read the original yourself.”—Ben Chu, The Independent [05/21/14]

“Monumental… Translated beautifully by Arthur Goldhammer, [Capital in the Twenty-First Century]…smashed into the intellectual world with incredible force… But beyond the media phenomenon, how much substance was there? The answer is: a considerable amount. The book is important, first and foremost, because it brings together a vast trove of research by Piketty and others on the evolution of income and wealth over two centuries. One also has to admire the way Piketty marshals the data to create a sweeping historical narrative, in a style reminiscent of the great thinkers of the 19th century.”—Ben Chu, The Independent [12/06/14]

“Piketty’s ground-breaking work on the historical evolution of income distribution is impressive, but he covers many other areas, including the erosion of meritocracy by inherited wealth, public debt, education, health and taxation. He also proposes challenging ideas for funding the social state in the 21st century… Capital in the Twenty-First Century will be embraced by progressives and rejected by conservatives wary of change. But, if those conservatives who support a meritocracy are convinced, it could be a catalyst for reform. This book is challenging, but one of the best economic books in decades.”—Paul Sweeney, The Irish Times

“In the 19th century, tsarist censors banned John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty while letting through Karl Marx’s Das Kapital. Mill’s message was so lucidly expressed that it posed an obvious and immediate threat to the regime; Marx’s prose was clotted and convoluted and his economics littered with leftovers from his youthful enthusiasm for Hegel. Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century shares its title with Marx’s work but its argumentative verve with Mill’s, and it has been a runaway bestseller in the United States. In spite of the efforts of conservative American economists to persuade their readers that anyone who raises questions about inequalities of income and wealth must be a Marxist, Piketty has no time whatsoever for Marx. Piketty’s economics is ‘data driven,’ while Marx was short of useful data, did not make good use of what data he had and generalized wildly from a few exceptional cases of capital-intensive industries… The book is a terrific achievement.”—Alan Ryan, Literary Review

“Very readable and often slyly witty… Piketty does economics in a new way; or more accurately, he returns to an older way. He still uses formal economic theory but regards economics as a sub-discipline of social science, alongside history, sociology, anthropology and political science and prefers to characterize his work as political economy rather than economic science. Piketty draws wonderfully upon the novels of Jane Austen and Honoré de Balzac to portray the gross inequality of 19th-century societies. He argues that the degree of inequality is not just the product of economic forces; it is also the product of politics, including the tax, expenditure and regulatory decisions of government, and the discourse of justification of inequality… Piketty starts in the 19th century and examines the three eras. He wants to understand the longue durée of capitalism, as did the pioneers of political economy such as Malthus, Ricardo and Marx. And like them, he places the distributional question—the distribution of pre-tax income and the distribution of wealth—at the heart of economic analysis. This approach, which is both empirical and historical, is much needed if we are to understand income inequality and more generally to understand how capitalist economies operate. The ahistorical perspective of hedge fund managers and their risk pricing models helped cause the financial crisis in 2007–08… Piketty’s focus is not labor income but capital income, and here lies his originality.”—George Fallis, Literary Review of Canada

“One of the strengths of Piketty’s book is the depth and rigor of his historical analysis. Yet it is changes taking place now that make his concerns especially urgent… Piketty’s is a potentially apocalyptic view of the future. On that at least, we’d better hope he’s wrong.”—Andrew Neather, The London Evening Standard

“This is a truly path-breaking book offering a hard-hitting and well-founded critique of capitalism in the twenty-first century. Piketty is concerned with the dynamics of income and wealth since the eighteenth century to draw lessons for the century ahead. The book has an admirably wide scope, offering systematic comparisons not only across advanced and emerging economies, but also across modern history… It is an exceptionally well-researched book. His sources are well documented. Piketty’s overall analysis and conclusions cannot be waved away by those who feel threatened by the book’s analysis and policy recommendations… In addition to uncovering [some] fundamental contradictions of capitalism and documenting the ensuing inequality in great detail, Piketty’s book contains a large number of less central, but nevertheless very arresting insights and findings… Very importantly, Piketty goes beyond uncovering the dynamics of capitalism and the ensuing inequalities and goes on to suggest policy measures to arrest/reverse them. These are not merely an afterthought but form a significant and well-reasoned part of the book… Piketty shows himself to be not only a supereconomist but also a skilled politician. No wonder his thoughts have resonated even at the highest political levels. One can only hope that his work will actually influence adoption of his policy recommendations.”—Christel Lane, LSE Review of Books

“The enthusiastic reception in the United States of Piketty’s rigorous Capital in the Twenty-First Century, which answers the empirical spirit of the age with a welcome rush of statistics, may be a promising sign of renewal in the otherwise sedate intellectual pastures of the continent. To have made the word ‘redistribution’ utterable again by mainstream economists is already a considerable achievement. Having offered an unignorable account of the history of inequality in capitalist democracies, Piketty believes he has identified a Band-Aid of sufficient swath—a European tax on wealth and a parliamentary chamber charged with regulating finance in the euro zone—to cover Europe’s wounds.”—Thomas Meaney and Yascha Mounk, The Nation

“Not since John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice in 1971 has a work of political theory been as rapturously received on the left as Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century… In this supposedly superficial and anti-intellectual age, his 690-page treatise on inequality, rich in empirical research, has resonated because it speaks to one of the central anxieties of our time: that society is becoming ever more fragmented as the very rich pull away from the rest. As Piketty elegantly demonstrates, as long as the rate of return on what he calls capital continues to exceed the growth rate of the economy (as it has done since the 1970s), inequality will widen to levels unknown since the Victorian era.”—New Statesman

“Piketty, a prominent economist, explains the tendency in mature societies for wealth to concentrate in a few hands.”—Amy Merrick, The New Yorker

“Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century delivered a well placed kick up the backside to complacent mainstream economics.”—Paul Mason, The Observer

“[Piketty’s] thesis is simple. The growing concentration of capital in fewer hands has enabled its owners to keep it relatively scarce and thus valuable… Continuing high inequality is socially and economically destabilizing, though it need not lead to Marx’s apocalypse. So what we need is another bout of social democracy especially in the form of progressive taxation. You many think that it doesn’t require 600 pages to get this message across. This would be wrong. The strength of Piketty’s book is his close attention to the different sources of inequality, the massive documentation underpinning his history and conclusions, and his impressive culls from sociology and literature, which exhibit the richness of ‘political economy’ compared to its thin mathematical successor that has attained such prominence… Piketty’s book is a timely intervention in the current debate about inequality and its causes.”—Robert Skidelsky, Prospect

“Thomas Piketty…has written a 700 page book on inequality which has achieved something few would have thought possible. He has rocked the neo-liberal economic establishment to its foundations. To read the tidal wave of reviews by economics professors and others across the world is to get a sense of the impact that Piketty’s conclusions are having: that inequality is even more extreme than most experts thought, is worse than at any time since the 19th century and is set to reach nightmare proportions in the years ahead. Even some of the most ideologically blinkered of free market economists, having read this book, now openly admit that Professor Piketty has laid down a challenge which they dare not ignore and which could change the political environment.”—John Palmer, Red Pepper

“Drawing on hundreds of years of economic data (some of which has only recently become available to researchers) Piketty reaches a simple but disturbing conclusion: In the long run, the return on capital tends to be greater than the growth rate of the economies in which that capital is located. What this means is that in a modern market economy the increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of the already-rich is as natural as water flowing downhill, and can only be ameliorated by powerful political intervention, in the form of wealth redistribution via taxes, and to a lesser extent laws that systematically protect labor from capital… Readers can already guess the dire conclusion that flows from combining Piketty’s theory with the plausible assumption that unregulated wealth leads to plutocracy: If the only way to avoid plutocracy would be to employ political processes that the plutocrats themselves will eventually buy lock, stock and barrel, then the only way to avoid being ruled by the Lords of Capital is to become one of them.”—Paul Campos, Salon

“[Piketty] has been perhaps the most important thinker on inequality of the past decade or so… With his book, he’s handed liberals a coherent framework that justifies the discomfort that they probably already felt about the wealth gap… Capital will change the political conversation in a more subtle way as well, by focusing it on wealth, not income… Whether or not Piketty’s grand unified theory is exactly correct, he’s moving the popular conversation in the right direction.”—Jordan Weissmann, Slate

“There are books

Acknowledgments
Introduction

I. Income and Capital
1. Income and Output
2. Growth: Illusions and Realities

II. The Dynamics of the Capital/Income Ratio
3. The Metamorphoses of Capital
4. From Old Europe to the New World
5. The Capital/Income Ratio over the Long Run
6. The Capital–Labor Split in the Twenty-First Century

III. The Structure of Inequality
7. Inequality and Concentration: Preliminary Bearings
8. Two Worlds
9. Inequality of Labor Income
10. Inequality of Capital Ownership
11. Merit and Inheritance in the Long Run
12. Global Inequality of Wealth in the Twenty-First Century

IV. Regulating Capital in the Twenty-First Century
13. A Social State for the Twenty-First Century
14. Rethinking the Progressive Income Tax
15. A Global Tax on Capital
16. The Question of the Public Debt

Conclusion
Notes
Contents in Detail
List of Tables and Illustrations*
Index


Tables and Illustrations

Tables
Table 1.1. Distribution of world GDP, 2012
Table 2.1. World growth since the Industrial Revolution
Table 2.2. The law of cumulated growth
Table 2.3. Demographic growth since the Industrial Revolution
Table 2.4. Employment by sector in France and the United States, 1800–2012
Table 2.5. Per capita output growth since the Industrial Revolution
Table 3.1. Public wealth and private wealth in France in 2012
Table 5.1. Growth rates and saving rates in rich countries, 1970–2010
Table 5.2. Private saving in rich countries, 1970–2010
Table 5.3. Gross and net saving in rich countries, 1970–2010
Table 5.4. Private and public saving in rich countries, 1970–2010
Table 7.1. Inequality of labor income across time and space
Table 7.2. Inequality of capital ownership across time and space
Table 7.3. Inequality of total income (labor and capital) across time and space
Table 10.1. The composition of Parisian portfolios, 1872–1912
Table 11.1. The age–wealth profile in France, 1820–2010
Table 12.1. The growth rate of top global wealth, 1987–2013
Table 12.2. The return on the capital endowments of US universities, 1980–2010

Illustrations
Figure I.1. Income inequality in the United States, 1910–2010
Figure I.2. The capital/income ratio in Europe, 1870–2010
Figure 1.1. The distribution of world output, 1700–2012
Figure 1.2. The distribution of world population, 1700–2012
Figure 1.3. Global inequality 1700–2012: divergence then convergence?
Figure 1.4. Exchange rate and purchasing power parity: euro/dollar
Figure 1.5. Exchange rate and purchasing power parity: euro/yuan
Figure 2.1. The growth of world population, 1700–2012
Figure 2.2. The growth rate of world population from Antiquity to 2100
Figure 2.3. The growth rate of per capita output since the Industrial Revolution
Figure 2.4. The growth rate of world per capita output from Antiquity to 2100
Figure 2.5. The growth rate of world output from Antiquity to 2100
Figure 2.6. Inflation since the Industrial Revolution
Figure 3.1. Capital in Britain, 1700–2010
Figure 3.2. Capital in France, 1700–2010
Figure 3.3. Public wealth in Britain, 1700–2010
Figure 3.4. Public wealth in France, 1700–2010
Figure 3.5. Private and public capital in Britain, 1700–2010
Figure 3.6. Private and public capital in France, 1700–2010
Figure 4.1. Capital in Germany, 1870–2010
Figure 4.2. Public wealth in Germany, 1870–2010
Figure 4.3. Private and public capital in Germany, 1870–2010
Figure 4.4. Private and public capital in Europe, 1870–2010
Figure 4.5. National capital in Europe, 1870–2010
Figure 4.6. Capital in the United States, 1770–2010
Figure 4.7. Public wealth in the United States, 1770–2010
Figure 4.8. Private and public capital in the United States, 1770–2010
Figure 4.9. Capital in Canada, 1860–2010
Figure 4.10. Capital and slavery in the United States
Figure 4.11. Capital around 1770–1810: Old and New World
Figure 5.1. Private and public capital: Europe and the United States, 1870–2010
Figure 5.2. National capital in Europe and America, 1870–2010
Figure 5.3. Private capital in rich countries, 1970–2010
Figure 5.4. Private capital measured in years of disposable income
Figure 5.5. Private and public capital in rich countries, 1970–2010
Figure 5.6. Market value and book value of corporations
Figure 5.7. National capital in rich countries, 1970–2010
Figure 5.8. The world capital/income ratio, 1870–2100
Figure 6.1. The capital–labor split in Britain, 1770–2010
Figure 6.2. The capital–labor split in France, 1820–2010
Figure 6.3. The pure return on capital in Britain, 1770–2010
Figure 6.4. The pure rate of return on capital in France, 1820–2010
Figure 6.5. The capital share in rich countries, 1975–2010
Figure 6.6. The profit share in the value added of corporations in France, 1900–2010
Figure 6.7. The share of housing rent in national income in France, 1900–2010
Figure 6.8. The capital share in national income in France, 1900–2010
Figure 8.1. Income inequality in France, 1910–2010
Figure 8.2. The fall of rentiers in France, 1910–2010
Figure 8.3. The composition of top incomes in France in 1932
Figure 8.4. The composition of top incomes in France in 2005
Figure 8.5. Income inequality in the United States, 1910–2010
Figure 8.6. Decomposition of the top decile, United States, 1910–2010
Figure 8.7. High incomes and high wages in the United States, 1910–2010
Figure 8.8. The transformation of the top 1 percent in the United States
Figure 8.9. The composition of top incomes in the United States in 1929
Figure 8.10. The composition of top incomes in the United States, 2007
Figure 9.1. Minimum wage in France and the United States, 1950–2013
Figure 9.2. Income inequality in Anglo-Saxon countries, 1910–2010
Figure 9.3. Income inequality in Continental Europe and Japan, 1910–2010
Figure 9.4. Income inequality in Northern and Southern Europe, 1910–2010
Figure 9.5. The top decile income share in Anglo-Saxon countries, 1910–2010
Figure 9.6. The top decile income share in Continental Europe and Japan, 1910–2010
Figure 9.7. The top decile income share in Europe and the United States, 1900–2010
Figure 9.8. Income inequality in Europe versus the United States, 1900–2010
Figure 9.9. Income inequality in emerging countries, 1910–2010
Figure 10.1. Wealth inequality in France, 1810–2010
Figure 10.2. Wealth inequality in Paris versus France, 1810–2010
Figure 10.3. Wealth inequality in Britain, 1810–2010
Figure 10.4. Wealth inequality in Sweden, 1810–2010
Figure 10.5. Wealth inequality in the United States, 1810–2010
Figure 10.6. Wealth inequality in Europe versus the United States, 1810–2010
Figure 10.7. Return to capital and growth: France, 1820–1913
Figure 10.8. Capital share and saving rate: France, 1820–1913
Figure 10.9. Rate of return versus growth rate at the world level, from Antiquity until 2100
Figure 10.10. After tax rate of return versus growth rate at the world level, from Antiquity until 2100
Figure 10.11. After tax rate of return versus growth rate at the world level, from Antiquity until 2200
Figure 11.1. The annual inheritance flow as a fraction of national income, France, 1820–2010
Figure 11.2. The mortality rate in France, 1820–2100
Figure 11.3. Average age of decedents and inheritors, France, 1820–2100
Figure 11.4. Inheritance flow versus mortality rate, France, 1820–2010
Figure 11.5. The ratio between average wealth at death and average wealth of the living, France, 1820–2010
Figure 11.6. Observed and simulated inheritance flow, France, 1820–2100
Figure 11.7. The share of inherited wealth in total wealth, France, 1850–2100
Figure 11.8. The annual inheritance flow as a fraction of household disposable income, France, 1820–2010
Figure 11.9. The share of inheritance in the total resources (inheritance and work) of cohorts born in 1790–2030
Figure 11.10. The dilemma of Rastignac for cohorts born in 1790–2030
Figure 11.11. Which fraction of a cohort receives in inheritance the equivalent of a lifetime labor income?
Figure 11.12. The inheritance flow in Europe, 1900–2010
Figure 12.1. The world’s billionaires according to Forbes, 1987–2013
Figure 12.2. Billionaires as a fraction of global population and wealth, 1987–2013
Figure 12.3. The share of top wealth fractiles in world wealth, 1987–2013
Figure 12.4. The world capital/income ratio, 1870–2100
Figure 12.5. The distribution of world capital, 1870–2100
Figure 12.6. The net foreign asset position of rich countries
Figure 13.1. Tax revenues in rich countries, 1870–2010
Figure 14.1. Top income tax rates, 1900–2013
Figure 14.2. Top inheritance tax rates, 1900–2013



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